Jeju is a popular vacation spot for locals and tourists alike, best known for its untapped beaches, waterfalls and plenty of good food. Most holidaymakers to South Korea only spend two to three days here, relinquishing the most part of their holiday to the buzzing capital city of Seoul. With the newest direct flight route, however, an increasing number of guests are spending more time exploring the island city, and we’re here to help you out on your trip planning.
Read on for everywhere to eat, see and stay on Jeju island.
Where to eat, see and stay in Jeju island:
(Image credit: jaemin don on Unsplash)
Where to eat
While Jeju island is known for its black pork and seafood dishes, we couldn’t help but sneak in this burger recommendation. After all, if you’re about to spend a couple of days on the island, there has to be a day you’re craving something a little more familiar in terms of taste, right? Just in case you’re mistaken, the carrot burger, garlic burger and spinach burger aren’t vegetarian-friendly. The garlic burger sees a combination of onion and garlic sauce, melted American Swiss cheese, sweet red onion, stir-fried mushrooms and a meat patty. Go for the double if you’re hungry, otherwise the single patty is a hefty option too.
South Korea, Jeju-do, Jeju-si, 특별자치도, Jochon-eup, Johamhaean-ro, 356
To be honest, we’re not sure if the anglicised name is Hwae Shim (회심) but we’re going to roll with it. The restaurant uses fresh Jeju-only ingredients, and features a mackerel soba dish that was developed specially by the owner. It sees a generous portion of raw mackerel slices, a peanut and sesame seed base, and cold soba noodles that’s incredibly refreshing on a hot day. Other favourites here include the ever-changing “Today’s Sushi” (오늘의 초밥), which is made with items that can be found fresh that day, including Jeju crab and mackerel.
2458-19, Yeongpyeong-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, Korea 1F
Of course, no trip to Jeju is complete without fresh seafood. Jaridom serves raw fish, also known as Hwae, and is different from your usual Japanese sashimi. The cuts are a lot chewier, and its usually served with a whole bunch of dishes with it — pick up the pieces and dip it in chojang, before wrapping it up with some seaweed in a perilla leaf and you’re good to go.
7, Donghongdong-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, Republic of Korea
Aewol Hami is a great place if you’re feeling particularly hungry or you’re with a group of friends — the extensive menu covers everything from sliced raw fish sets to various types of seafood stew. The most popular item on the menu? Galchi Jorim, a braised mackerel stew that’s served in a long metal pot with tons of shrimp and shellfish.
2550, Aewol-ri, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
There’s a difference between the regular pork and Jeju black pork, and we won’t elaborate on it too much — all you need to know is that it’s delicious and you’ve got to try it if you haven’t already. The hog is native to Jeju Island, so you’ll find many places serving it, but we’re recommending a fool-proof locale that’s popular amongst locals and celebrities too. You won’t have to lift a finger at Donsadon as the textured slabs of meat come to the table: the staff will come to cook and cut the meat in front of you so you can enjoy the juicy pieces in its best form. Remember to order a side of kimchi stew to slurp on as it helps cut through the richness of the meat.
15 Gwangpyeongdong-ro, Nohyeong-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Another way to have Jeju black pork is in tonkatsu, and we think Jejuroum is a good place to have your fix of the meat at. The crust of the tonkatsu is has a faint nutty hint to it that adds another layer of flavour to the tender meat, and it’s served with rice and vegetables. Other popular items here include the Kombu-cured salmon bowl.
14, Woljeong 3-gil, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
What to see
Go on a relaxing drive
Jeju is a great place to drive, and especially so if you’re here in the spring. Bright yellow canola flowers bloom at the end of winter and throughout spring, and you can feast your eyes on golden fields during your drive. Stop your car along the side and wade through the yellow sea for the perfect photo opp.
Besides the canola flower season, tourists here shouldn’t miss out on a coastal drive. Our favourite one is from Gimnyeong to Woljeong, a short 6km drive that’s best known for its other name: the Windmill Coastal Road. Think tall wind turbines and a beautiful, coastal scenery that’s dotted with red and yellow from the visitors at Woljeong-ri Beach — a picture-perfect scene if you’d ask us.
Walk on the Olle trail(s)
Many come to Jeju island to trek the Olle trail, a long-distance footpath that consists mainly of 21 connected numbered main routes and five sub-routes. The routes are of varying difficulty, and our favourite – and the most popular one – is Route 7. It begins at the Jeju Olle Tourist Center that’s located in the downtown of Seogwipo and finishes at Wolpyeong Awenangmok. This coastal trail passes by stunning natural landscapes like the Oedolgae Rock, Soesokkak Estuary and Columnar Joint.
Climb up Hallasan
Hallasan is South Korea’s tallest mountain, and it sits 1,950m above sea level. The mountain is best known for its constantly changing landscape — think a gorgeous red during the autumn because of the fall foliage, and snow-covered peaks during the winter. There are four hiking trails that lead to the upper crater, but only two of these trails reach the very summit of the mountain. The best route up would probably be the longest one (Seongpanak Trail) which starts at a gradual incline, with seemingly unending flights of stairs nearer to the summit, and the best one (in our opinion) down would be the 8.7 kilometre Gwaneumsa Trail. It’ll tire you out for sure — if you include rest stops along the way and at the summit, this activity will take a good six to eight hours of your day.
If that’s too much for you to handle, an easier hiking alternative would be Sunrise Peak, or Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, which will only take you an hour tops.
Visit a Hallabong farm
Hallabong is the representative fruit of Jeju island, and is a cross-breed between the Kiyomi orange and Ponkan citrus fruit. It’s quite easily recognisable due to its protruding stem, and you’ll find everything from Hallabong rice wine to Hallabong jam while you’re here too. If you’d like to buy some home, you can always get them from a traditional market near you. Otherwise, head to a Hallabong farm for the best experience. A popular location for Hallabong-picking is Hyosung Hallabong Experience Farm. P.S take note that the season spans from December to March.
1499-1 Hogeun-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Go cart-racing with your friends
Wind 1947 Jeju Extreme Circuit is the longest circuit in South Korea, and it’s a pretty fun activity with your friends on a day with good weather. The 1,947 metre cart track course will comprise of scenic views of Hallasan — if you’re not too busy trying to outrace everyone, that is.
Where to stay
Grand Hyatt Jeju
Grand Hyatt Jeju is one of the most convenient locales you can find on Jeju, especially if you’re planning to have your base at the northern side of the holiday island. Besides being 10 minutes from Jeju airport, it’s also the largest Hyatt hotel in Asia Pacific: the twin towers house 1,600 rooms and suites, 14 unique restaurants and bars, two premium spas, as well as Jeju’s largest outdoor deck with infinity pool and HAN Collection K-fashion mall. While cosy rooms do just fine, you’ll be pleased to know that Grand Hyatt Jeju’s rooms start at a spacious 65-sqm.
JW Marriott Jeju
If upscale hotels are your vibe, then JW Marriott Jeju is another locale on the island that you’d want to consider. The landmark resort recently opened in May 2022, along the picturesque coastline of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The design-led incorporates elements of the island like the traditional volcanic stone and slate architecture, complete with an impressive view of Jeju’s coastline.
Now, StayFolio isn’t a single hotel. The online platform focuses on providing stunning, curated locales for guests to stay, with a keen focus on South Korean establishments since it is where it’s founded.
There are more than 100 options for Jeju island itself, each one with a distinct style and character in terms of interior and architectural designs. Each of the listings come with a backstory and little context to where you will be staying, and it adds a whole lot of charm to the already aesthetically-pleasing homes. Our favourites on the list of options on Jeju island include graybox, a three-bedroom house located on the top of a tangerine field that comes with an outdoor pool and private barbecue deck for a maximum of six guests. Other cosier alternatives are Coda, a quiet locale designed with Japanese-style sensibilities.
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.